This morning when I woke up it was 5 degrees in the Midwest. So like all crazy mid-westerners I thought today would be a great day to start planning our garden. We moved last summer, so this year we will start from scratch at our new home. As we are planning the new garden space, the very first thing we need to do is call about where all of the underground cables are on the property. Anytime you are starting a new garden space, this needs to happen so you don’t accidently hit a utility line. You can call 811 from anywhere in the United States to get this information. Once this is done, we will plot out where the garden will be.
We will have two distinct garden plots. The first plot will be our vegetable garden. For this plot, we will have an “early” garden. The early garden will consist of lettuce, radishes and onions. We sow the lettuce and radishes directly in the ground. We will buy the onion sets. These are great early vegetables as they prefer the cool nights we have in the spring. I found this great chart online with a calendar for planting in your particular area http://www.burpee.com/gygg/growingCalendarNoZipCode.jsp.
Soon, we will also start some seedlings inside for transplanting later in the Spring when they will be ready. We did this last year for the first time and had some success. I am planning on starting some herbs (basil and cilantro), peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. We did not have great luck with tomatoes so we will likely go to the local greenhouse and buy the plants.
The second garden area will be my herb garden. This will be our fourth year for an herb garden and I finally have the basics. I am starting to do more on a personal level with herbs and natural remedies, so I will expand. In the meantime, I know we will at a minimum have basil, cilantro (lots of cilantro), rosemary, and oregano. I have begun researching other herbs that have historically grown well in our area and will expand. At our previous home, I did the herb garden as a raised bed and thrived. The picture at the top of the post was my very first herb garden right after it was planted. I will probably do the same thing here. We will also need to figure out some squirrel deterrent as there are tons of squirrels in our new neighborhood.
As the days grow longer, I know there won’t be too much more brutal weather like we are having now. I am looking forward to the warm sunshine and getting my hands in the dirt again and seeing my garden grow.
It finally stopped raining here long enough for us to get into the garden and start reaping some of our bounty. The radishes look so yummy. We are planning on having them and the fresh onions later today as a snack. I also love them in a nice lettuce salad. Although our planted lettuce is not quite ready, but with the warm weather we are supposed to have later this week I expect we will have lettuce by the weekend. We are also going to cut some fresh cilantro shortly and make up a little salsa.
Although we are lucky and have a nice patch for our garden, you really don’t need a lot of space. We have a lot of our garden planted, as most of the danger of frost is past (although last night it was close). We are going to plant a few more tomatoes, peppers and broccoli today.
If you would like to give a try at container gardening, I am including a link to a great website I found for urban gardening: http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-gardening/random-acts-of-gardening/7-container-gardening-tips.aspx.
Get out enjoy the sunshine and this beautiful Spring day we have today. Summer is just around the corner.
My dear husband and I both love the garden. I love the planting and harvesting, he loves the work in between. This makes for a perfect team. This year, we started some of our plants indoors. This was a first for both of us. The biggest issue we had was it was too cold to put our little green house outside until April. Because of the cold, we had to leave the plants in the house much longer than would have been desired and they didn’t get the kick-start they would have from a heated greenhouse. The tomato plants were the hardest for us to start. In the end, we only had 3 or 4 make it to the ground. We had much better luck with peppers and squash.
We also tried our hand at starting flowers. Because these were started a bit later, they were doing beautiful…UNTIL a very windy day at the end of April. My dear husband had our little starter greenhouse opened so the plants wouldn’t get too hot and get some air. Of course, this was a recipe for disaster when a big wind came and knocked the greenhouse over, dumping over half the plants. We were able to save some of the plants and for the most part they are now in planters or in the ground.
With the warmer weather we have had the last couple of weeks, we visited our local nursery and purchased plants for the herb garden and our big veggie garden. The early garden is now starting to produce and we had our first veggies over the weekend. Nothing tastes better in your salad than your own onions and radishes. We will have fresh lettuce in about a week.
All in all, our adventure in starting from seed was not all bad. We will try again next year, but will definitely make some tweaks to our process.
Everyone has different views about Earth Day. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, Earth day used to mean “hippies”. Now that I am older and wiser, I know it means having a great respect for Mother nature. I am very fortunate, as I grew up in a farming community very close to a big city. So I really have had the best of both worlds. Growing up with farmers taught me not to take food for granted — it does not just magically appear on your store shelf. Growing up with lots of opportunity to go to the City taught me there are a lot of other people in the world with different food tastes other than just meat and potatoes.
When I was growing up, my grandparents lived in the City so there wasn’t much of a garden. However, I do remember we did only get fruits and vegetables that were local to our area and they were always very fresh. When I was in my early 20’s I had the opportunity to learn from a wonderful woman how to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables. I learned how to can tomatoes and green beans. I learned how to preserve strawberries (which grow very nicely in our area and are delicious fresh off the plant). I learned how to make homemade jelly (you can’t buy anything at the store like homemade). From my grandmother, I also can make a killer pie — nothing is better than a cherry pie made with the tart cherries grown around here. By the way, the Midwest grows pretty good apples too.
Now that I am in the second chapter of my life with my new husband, I plan to get back to my early adulthood a bit. This year, my dear husband and I plan to expand our garden a bit more and can all those wonderful vegetables we are growing (some from seed). We are also planting more heirloom vegetables than we have in the past. We are going to expand our herb garden and I am going to really try to dry more of those wonderful herbs this year. We are also going to create a real compost pile this year. It won’t be anything fancy, it will not be expensive — but it will get the job done.
We are going to expand the beautiful flowers in our yard. This I am doing all by seed. Yesterday, we dug all his old bird feeders out and filled them to treat our feather friends.
Our plans for the summer and fall include canning tomatoes, salsa and pasta sauce with vegetables grown from our garden. This year I AM going to figure out how to keep cilantro and basil through the winter….
We also love to take Saturday morning and visit our local farmers market. If we are really ambitious, we will drive up towards Michigan and stop at the great local places along the way (particularly during blueberry season). Both of us have done many of these things in the past, but with the two of us working towards the same goal we will be so much more successful.
So to bring this all back to my original topic — Earth Day probably means something different to everyone. For me it is to respect the land, respect our food.
Warmer weather has begun making an appearance around here. This year in our area (much like most of the country), we have had a wicked winter. Finally, the weather has broken a bit and it looks like it will be at least a little somewhat warmer. Earlier this week, when I got home from work – Larry surprised me and had our early garden started. The great thing about the early garden is you don’t have to wait until all fear of a frost is gone. Unfortunately, you do have to wait until the grown warms up enough your seeds will germinate. We had 3 days in a row where it got above 60 and the ground was beautiful.
Below is a graphic from http://averagepersongardening.com/ about soil temps. I thought it was helpful.
He tilled the two areas of the garden where we plant our early stuff. This week he planted onions, radishes and lettuce. Sometime in the next few days, I think we are also going to add a row of carrots. Carrots are new for us this year, and not quite sure how they will turn out. But hey, part of this is about the adventure.
I also started our flowers inside. My hope is tomorrow to move our little greenhouse outside so the little seedlings can really take off. I’m pretty sure we are going to have some winners and losers in our planting adventure, but it is definitely going to be fun. I will post some pictures in the next week to show our progress.
Pretty soon, it will be my turn to get my hands dirty. My focus is on our herb garden and the flowers. It is not quite warm enough in our area for either yet, but soon enough. The best part of this adventure is in just a few weeks we will have fresh vegetables we grew ourselves.
The first day of Spring brings to mind many ways to save money and have lots of fun at the same time. It is also the beginning of working in the yard and creating the garden. One great way to save money is to plant your vegetables and flowers from seed. At first this can seem overwhelming; however, it really is easy. Because it is so cost effective, even if you do make a mistake your investment of actual dollars is not much. One way to save money on the planting is to recycle old pots and think of creative uses for other materials. Also, this time of year, you can find great sales at many of the home improvement stores. You should also be able to find sales on seeds and soil. This year, we are starting tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, herbs and flowers inside. There are many other seeds you can sow directly in the earth. As soon as we get a few warm days and the ground has thawed enough to run the tiller, we will be planting our early garden outside. We plant onions, lettuce and radishes near the end of March or early April, depending on how much the ground has warmed. This year has been particularly bitter cold in the mid-west and it looks like we are going to get a late start to Spring. Last year was my first real year wanting to garden. I found it is fun and has a great deal of satisfaction. Nothing tastes better than a tomato from your own garden.
With the particularly harsh winter we have had, it is great to know Spring is just a few weeks away. Last year was the first year I was really involved in gardening and I found I loved it. I have started planning our garden for this year, taking us from early Spring to late Fall. Last year, we purchased our plants from local greenhouses. This year, we are getting ambitious and are going to try to start the majority of our plants ourselves. Larry has always had a garden, but herbs and flowers were new to him. Being a sport, he made my first herb garden. We wanted to keep it as inexpensive as possible, because we were not sure if we would like the results. For our first try, it did not turn out too bad. We built the sides from untreated fence board (total cost approx. $5). We filled it with potting soil ($2). We then purchased the plants ($8). I planted two basil plants, two cilantro plants, one Rosemary plant, two lavender plants, and one oregano plant. So for about $15 we had an herb garden we used all summer. This year, the cost should be under $5 to get started for the summer.